Friday Afternoon Poll: Quantum Mechanics vs. Relativity

It’s Friday afternoon, and after a day full of classes, I have an hour gap between the introduction to research seminar and my dreaded TA team meeting.  Since my brain is in the final stages of shutdown, I figrued it would be a good time for a fun, somewhat nonsensical poll.  So here we go:

If you could change the laws of physics, which would you get rid of: quantum mechanics or relativity?  And I don’t mean this esoterically, like finding a quantum theory of gravity to explain relativity, or something like that.  I mean you say “BAM!  Now the wave-particle duality no longer exists!” or “WHAMMO!  No more time dilation!”  And your choice would immediately affect all physical processes from that point forward.

There are no cop-outs allowed.  You can’t say that you would keep both.  Put your answer in the comments section, along with some sort of explanation for why you would choose to do it that way.

Since I just came up with this question not 15 minutes ago, I don’t have an answer myself yet, but I’ll let it percolate through my half-functioning brain and let you know what I decide.


4 Responses to “Friday Afternoon Poll: Quantum Mechanics vs. Relativity”

  1. 1 wellcaffeinated September 12, 2008 at 7:19 PM

    Considering that the principles of quantum mechanics keep the orbital electrons in my body from crashing into their corresponding nuclei, I’d keep quantum mechanics. Besides, with inherent randomness in the world, one could argue that it gives rise to “free will”.

    Also, without a cosmic speed limit, we could build warp drives! Although, without causality, things could get slightly confusing… oh well. 😀

  2. 2 excitedstate September 12, 2008 at 8:36 PM

    Yeah, I was thinking about the problem with atoms too, but the correct description of atoms has to take relativistic effects into account too, right?

    I actually made the argument that quantum mechanics gives rise to consciousness in one of my undergrad application essays. (Not that I necessarily believe that theory, but it was a pretty interesting exercise.)

    I’m trying to decide what effects relativity has on our everyday lives. (Other than gravity, of course, but for this exercise, let’s assume it would default to the classical picture.) There’s time dilation effects on the decay of muons and such, the doppler shift of light, etc. I can’t think of any everyday effects, though.

  3. 3 anonymous September 13, 2008 at 1:19 PM

    electron spin arises as a relativistic effect in QM and so without this there would be no exclusion principle and no atoms etc. i don’t think we can really do without either of them!

  4. 4 blaisepascal September 17, 2008 at 6:57 PM

    Since modern QM relies on special relativity (and has issues with GR), I assume that when choosing betwixt QM and relativity, it’s GR I’m choosing between. As such, keeping QM will also mean keeping electron spin, exclusion principle, and atoms.

    Unfortunately, it’s my understanding that “classical” gravity is incompatible with SR, and thus relativistic QM. So some form of quantum gravity (but perhaps not GR-compatible QG) is a necessity.

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